Elections

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WP144: Social desirability bias and reported vote preferences in African surveys

Much of what we know about voting behavior in Africa is based on data from public opinion surveys. However, there has been little investigation into whether reported voter preferences are reliable, or whether they are affected by bias, particularly that which may arise from the social undesirability of “tribalistic” voting. I use a voting simulation experiment in Uganda and analysis of existing surveys from a number of African countries to show that voters who are observed by others are less likely to report a preference for a coethnic candidate.

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WP137: Perceptions versus reality: Assessing popular evaluations of election quality in Africa

In this paper, I assess the determinants and validity of citizens’ perceptions of election quality. First, I suggest that citizens’ evaluation of the performance of election-related institutions is the most crucial determinant of their election quality perceptions; however, citizens’ personal experience with electoral irregularities, and affiliation with electoral winners also matter. Second, I argue that citizens’ election quality perceptions are generally indicative of prevailing trends within different stages of the election process.

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WP135: Museveni and the 2011 Ugandan election: Did the money matter?

In February 2011, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni further extended his already twenty-five-year tenure by winning a resounding re-election victory. In the aftermath of the vote, which many had earlier predicted would be competitive or even result in an opposition victory, analysts and opposition supporters ascribed Museveni’s victory to his government’s massive pre-election spending on public goods, and to supposedly widespread vote-buying practices.

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WP127: Voting intentions in Africa: Ethnic, economic or partisan?

This paper offers a first comprehensive account of popular voting intentions in Africa’s new electoral democracies. With reference to comparative aggregate and survey data from 16 countries, we show that competitive elections in Africa are more than mere ethnic censuses or simple economic referenda. Instead, Africans engage in both ethnic and economic voting. Not surprisingly, people who belong to the ethnic group in power intend to support the ruling party, in contrast to those who feel a sense of discrimination against their cultural group.

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WP121: Political participation in Africa: Participatory inequalities and the role of resources

The aim of this paper is to examine the role of individual resource endowments for explaining individual and group variation in African political participation. Drawing on new data for more than 27 000 respondents in 20 emerging African democracies, the empirical findings suggest surprisingly weak explanatory power of the resource perspective, both for explaining individual variation and observed group inequalities in participation. In several cases, the relatively resource poor groups participate to a greater extent than the relatively resource rich.

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WP115: Support you can count on? Ethnicity, partisanship, and retrospective voting in Africa

In this paper we investigate voting behavior in Africa to ask what base of support presidents can count on. The most prevalent notion about electoral politics in Africa is that voters simply vote for co-ethnics. We find that assumption to be faulty. While voters tend to support a co-ethnic president, their support is not inevitable, and non co-ethnics can be swayed in a president’s favor in essentially the same fashion as co-ethnics. We show that, despite political parties lack of differentiable policy programs, party identification is what gives presidents their strongest support base.

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WP114: Vote-buying and political behavior: Estimating and explaining vote-buying's effect on turnout in Kenya

Vote-buying has and continues to be pervasive in many electoral regimes. Yet the relationship between vote-buying and citizen behavior, particularly in the context of the secret ballot, remains largely unknown. In this paper I study vote-buying’s effect on voter turnout in Kenya, using a nationally representative survey that includes questions about the country's 2002 presidential and parliamentary elections.

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WP107: Cross-cutting cleavages and ethnic voting: An experimental study of cousinage in Mali

Social scientists often attribute moderation of the political salience of ethnicity, in ethnically diverse societies, to the presence of cross-cutting cleavages-that is, to dimensions of identity or interest along which members of the same ethnic group may have diverse allegiances. Yet estimating the causal effects of cross-cutting cleavages is difficult.

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WP106: Is clientelism at work in African elections? A study of voting behavior in Kenya and Zambia

In this study I challenge the notion that personalism and clientelism structure voting behavior in Africa. Using a unique combination of data sources - survey responses from the Afrobarometer project merged with constituency-level election returns - I test the relative power of two interpersonal, clientelistic interactions between voters and members of parliament (MPs), vs. how often MPs visit their constituency, in predicting election outcomes.

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WP104: Do free elections foster capable governments? The democracy-governance connection in Africa

Does democratization lead to improved governance? This exploratory paper addresses this question with reference to a cross-section of sub-Saharan African countries using macro, micro and trend data. The results show an elective affinity between free elections and improved governance. But any democracy advantage is more apparent in relation to some dimensions governance than others. For example, while elections apparently boost the rule of law and control of corruption, they also seem to undercut the transparency of government procedures and the responsiveness of elected officials.

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WP103: Tribalism as a minimax-regret strategy: Evidence from voting in the 2007 Kenyan elections

Although many studies find that voting in Africa approximates an ethnic census in that voting is primarily along ethnic lines, few studies have sought to explain such voting behavior using a rational choice framework. In this note, we use data of voter opinions from a survey conducted two weeks before the 2007 Kenyan presidential elections to evaluate the primary motivation for voting. We analyze voter responses on a number of issues and show that there are major differences in expected benefits across ethnic groups depending on the winning presidential candidate.

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WP99: Vote buying and violence in Nigerian election campaigns

Vote buying and political intimidation are important, if epiphenomenal, dimensions of Nigerian election campaigns. According to survey-based estimates, fewer than one out of five Nigerians is personally exposed to vote buying and fewer than one in ten experiences threats of electoral violence. But when, as commonly happens, campaign irregularities are targeted at the rural poor, effects are concentrated. These effects are as follows: violence reduces turnout; and vote buying enhances partisan loyalty.

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WP95: Voting in Kenya: Putting ethnicity in perspective

Do Kenyans vote according to ethnic identities or policy interests? Based on results from a national probability sample survey conducted in December 2007, this article shows that, while ethnic origins drive voting patterns, elections in Kenya amount to more than a mere ethnic census. We start by reviewing how Kenyans see themselves, which is mainly in non-ethnic terms. We then report on how they see others, whom they fear will organize politically along ethnic lines. People therefore vote defensively in ethnic blocs, but not exclusively.

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WP94: Rejecting the disloyal opposition? The trust gap in mass attitudes toward ruling and opposition parties in Africa

Analysts of African political party systems frequently assert that political parties and party system development are central to the effective functioning and eventual consolidation of democracy on the continent. Due to both lack of data and elite bias, analysts have overlooked a critical link in the chain of party system evolution: mass attitudes toward political parties generally, and towards opposition parties in particular. Afrobarometer data reveals that there is, on average, a very large (20-percentage point) gap in levels of public trust between ruling and opposition parties.

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WP84: Quality of elections, satisfaction with democracy, and political trust in Africa

Elections are a means for realising some of the core values of democracy, especially participation of the citizenry, which helps to ensure quality governance and accountability on the part of elected officials. The quality of elections therefore provides an indicator of the extent to which democratic governance has been consolidated. The analyses in this paper indicate a significant relationship between citizens’ evaluation of the quality of their national elections and (1) satisfaction with democracy, and (2) trust in political institutions.

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WP78: It’s all relative: Competing models of vote choice in Benin

Since the Third Wave of democratization swept the African continent in the early 1990s, a sufficient number of democratic elections have taken place on the continent to begin to analyze voting patterns. Benin, for example, has successfully held several rounds of free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections since 1991, but little is known about how the individual citizens of Benin cast their votes and why, or about the strategies of parties and candidates for appealing to voters.

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WP77: Support for competitive politics and government performance: Public perceptions of democracy In Senegal

The 2000 presidential election in which Abdoulaye Wade defeated Abdou Diouf demonstrated that multiparty politics has created meaningful competition between incumbents and opposition political parties in Senegal. Moreover, this alternation suggests that political competition is sustainable and that citizen’s commitment to democracy is strengthening as demonstrated by their willingness to eject undesirable governments from office. Previous analyses of citizens’ perceptions of democracy in Senegal have largely focused on elite views.

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WP55: Free and fair or fraudulent and forged: Elections and legitimacy in Africa

Elections are thought to bolster legitimacy by providing fair mechanisms for selecting leaders. In Africa, where competitive elections are often unfamiliar and imperfect, losers express much less support for their political institutions than do winners. Analysis of Round 1 Afrobarometer survey data from more than 20,000 respondents in 12 countries demonstrates that losers are less inclined than winners to trust their political institutions, consent to government authority, and feel that voting matters.

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WP51: "Who votes in Africa? An examination of electoral turnout in 10 African countries

The question "Who votes in the United States?" has been largely answered by the political science scholarship devoted to this subject. In contrast, the question "Who votes in Africa?" has yet to receive significant attention. This paper focuses on electoral participation in 10 sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries. Afrobarometer survey data is used to assess the determinants of voting for over 17,000 voting age adults in 10 SSA countries. We find that variables associated with several approaches help explain who votes in Africa.

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PP15: Who says elections in Ghana are ‘free and fair’?

Since 2000, elections in Ghana have been lauded by observers both internally and externally as being “free and fair.” The losing political party, however, has consistently contested the election results. After the 2004 presidential election, three key opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) members challenged the results announced by the Electoral Commission (EC), suing the EC to publish detailed data from the election.

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WP49: Electoral institutions, partisan status, and political support: A natural experiment from Lesotho

Does the introduction of proportionality in electoral systems help to boost popular evaluations of democracy? This article traces shifts over time in political support, using Afrobarometer data to measure mass satisfaction with democracy and public trust in political institutions in Lesotho. We find that electoral reforms have both direct and indirect effects. In the aggregate, Lesotho's transition from a majoritarian to a mixed electoral system is directly associated with increased levels of citizen support for the country's state and regime.

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WP6: Uganda's Referendum 2000: The silent boycott

On 29 June 2000, Ugandans faced an historic choice. They went to the polls to select a form of government for their country. The referendum question asked citizens to choose between an existing movement system and a multiparty system. At stake in the vote was the popularity of the no-party political arrangements that have evolved in Uganda over the last fifteen years, bringing to the country a measure of stability and growth.

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AD11: Nigeria heads for closest election on record

Nigerians will go to the polls on 14 February to elect their president and national legislators to four-year terms, followed two weeks later by elections for many governors and state assemblies. The presidential election will be Nigeria’s fifth since the return to democracy in 1999. In an Afrobarometer survey conducted two months before the elections, we find a highly competitive political field, with much uncertainty about the prospects for credible and peaceful polls and about the outcome of the elections.

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Voting and Democratic Citizenship in Africa

How do individual Africans view competitive elections? How do they behave at election time? What are the implications of new forms of popular participation for citizenship and democracy? Drawing on a decade of research from the cross-national Afrobarometer project, the authors of this seminal collection explore the emerging role of mass politics in Africa's fledgling democracies.

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AD1: Malawi’s 2014 Elections: Amid concerns about fairness, outcome is too close to call

Malawians will go to the polls on 20 May 2014 to select their next leaders. In an Afrobarometer poll conducted 6 to 8 weeks before the election, Malawians express strong
confidence in their ability to vote as they choose, but also concerns about the freeness and fairness of the overall process, especially the vote count. Given uncertainty about registration and turnout levels among Malawian youth, as well as the significant number of respondents who did not reveal a vote choice, the election remains too close to call.

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Elections

Participation in campaigns and elections. Citizens’ voting intentions and their opinions on the quality of electoral processes.

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